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Buried gold

Monday, Nov 26, 2012

* I did not know this

One example of a state law that needs scrutiny, Chapa LaVia said, is the statute that makes school compulsory at age 7, when most youngsters enter second grade — instead of age 5, when children must start school in most states.

* I told subscribers about this days ago, but it has been mostly ignored by the media. I’m not sure why. Speaker Madigan has kept himself out of gaming expansion talks since 1994, but now he apparently no longer has a conflict of interest. That major development rated just two sentences buried in a recent SJ-R column

Rep. Lou Lang, D-Skokie, said he thinks having House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, more actively involved in the talks will make a difference. Madigan has stayed out of gaming expansion in the past because of clients in his law firm.

Successful gaming expansion requires everybody pulling in the same direction. While this development doesn’t mean that Madigan will be on the same page as everyone else (subscribers know more), it does mean that the most able legislator under the Dome is now involved, and that in and of itself is very important. The AP also buried the item in a recent story

Quinn told The Associated Press earlier this month he believes a compromise is in the offing. Of major assistance in that scenario, according to House sponsor Rep. Lou Lang, is newly offered assistance of House Speaker Michael Madigan.

For nearly 20 years, the Chicago Democrat has recused himself from negotiations about gambling to avoid a potential conflict of interest with his private law practice, which he said might serve clients interested in casino development. Lang said Madigan no longer has the conflict — something Madigan spokesman Steve Brown confirmed without elaborating — and has orchestrated discussions designed to lead to a deal.

“It’s a very big issue, and the speaker, with good reason, likes to involve himself in the big issues,” said Lang, D-Skokie, “so … perhaps he can be helpful in the process of getting the governor to the table.”

* Indiana is worried

Senate President Pro Tem David Long wryly noted last week that the best tax dollars are another state’s tax dollars, pointing out that Indiana had feasted on gambling profits from residents of Michigan, Ohio, Illinois and Kentucky for two decades now. But that feast is almost at an end.

“Gaming revenue is under assault right now. If you look at what happens when you stand up and take other people’s money, it was a smart way to go about it, and we got Michigan’s, Ohio’s, Illinois’s, and Kentucky’s money, and we weren’t ashamed of taking it,” Long told an Indiana Chamber of Commerce forum last week.

Now Ohio has built four casinos near the Indiana state line and Illinois is poised to add one more near Chicago to draw business from northwest Indiana. That makes it less likely those tax dollars will cross the state line.

* And anti-gambling advocates are still throwing everything including the kitchen sink at the plan to expand gaming

Anti-gambling advocates say slot machines at places like Arlington Park won’t generate more interest in horse racing.

The machines, they say, will just draw people who want to play slot machines, leaving the racing industry without the renewed enthusiasm it’s looking for.

“If they go ahead with the slots at the tracks, they’re going to put the horsemen out of business,” said Anita Bedell, director of Illinois Church Action on Alcohol and Addiction Problems.

Um, the horsemen favor slots at tracks. It’ll increase purses as it’s done elsewhere.

* Gov. Pat Quinn’s recent appointment to the Sports Facilities Authority broke the gridlock and allowed Kelly Kraft to be named the new executive director. But the board appointee wasn’t too thrilled with his role

Quentin Young, a longtime Quinn ally who was placed on the board, praised Quinn for his record, calling him “incorruptible.” But he did not sound as confident that the board spat could be so easily forgotten. “I don’t think it’s good for elected officials to fight the way they did,” he said.

Maybe he should’ve said “No” when Quinn called then.

* Beware stories that make Juan Ochoa into the man with the white hat

When the Town of Cicero sends out news releases in Spanish, they frequently highlight the contributions of “el Senador Sandoval.”

What they don’t tell Cicero taxpayers is that they are footing the bill for state Sen. Martin Sandoval to translate those words into Spanish. […]

Juan Ochoa, who is challenging Cicero Town President Larry Dominick in the February election, disagrees. Ochoa says Sandoval’s arrangement with Cicero does indeed amount to double-dipping and creates a conflict of interest.

“It’s unethical that he is representing the Town of Cicero [in the Senate] and has a contract with the Town of Cicero,” says Ochoa, who recently moved to Cicero and formerly was chief executive of the government agency that oversees McCormick Place and Navy Pier. “I find it hard to believe there are no other companies that can perform that task, and not as expensively.”

The article goes on to talk about how Sandoval was ironically working with Republicans. Not mentioned is that Ochoa held a fundraiser for Bill Brady in 2010.

Not defending Sandoval in the least. Just sayin…

* Buried in a recent story about gay marriage in Illinois

Peter Breen is an attorney for the Thomas More Society, who is representing two downstate county clerks who are defending the state’s gay marriage ban against a lawsuit filed by 25 gay couples. Breen believes same-sex marriage proponents are over-stating the significance of the Nov. 6 ballot measures, which he says were in left-leaning states - Maine, Maryland, Minnesota and Washington - and where gay rights advocates outspent opponents on political advertising.

Maine is more left-leaning than Illinois?

Who knew?

* From a story about Gov. Quinn’s gifts

a chunk of chocolate made in the shape of a foot given to him in 2009 by Southern Illinois University Trustee Roger Herrin, whom Quinn appointed to the university’s board in 2011 and tried unsuccessfully to have installed as the board’s chairman last spring.

Foot in mouth? Highly appropriate.

* I couldn’t make it to Serafin’s party this year because of family obligations

Isn’t that awkward? Sneed hears at a recent holiday bash tossed by PR whiz Thom Serafin, a number of people who want Gov. Pat Quinn’s job mingled with… the governor himself!

Translation: Gov hopefuls like State Sen. Kirk Dillard and State Treasurer Dan Rutherford hung out with Quinn at Serafin’s popular press/pol get together at Butch McGuire’s last week.

…Adding… From Mayor Emanuel’s office…

STATEMENT FROM MAYOR EMANUEL SUPPORTING A MORATORIUM ON CPS FACILITY CLOSURES TO BRING STABILITY TO CHICAGO’S SCHOOLS AND COMMUNITIES

“We know that our city has a significant number of schools that are underutilized, stretching resources thin and not giving every student a quality education. In the past, there has been too much uncertainty around changes to our schools: year after year, Chicago Public Schools did not do an adequate job of engaging communities in these critical decisions, and year after year students, families and communities were left wondering of what was to come. That ends this year. With the Commission CPS CEO Byrd-Bennett has appointed, Chicagoans will be involved in the conversation about any changes to our district this year; and after this year, I have directed CPS to implement a moratorium on CPS facility closures, ending unnecessary disruption to students and parents and bringing stability to our schools.”

Buried in the Tribune story

Critics have charged the extension only seeks to delay announcing this year’s school closings, making it harder for community groups to launch a united opposition.

- Posted by Rich Miller        


8 Comments
  1. - Rod - Monday, Nov 26, 12 @ 2:17 pm:

    In relation to the CPS school closing 5 year mortorium. So that would be for 2013 through 2018. Mayor Emanuel only has three years to go in his term as Mayor and under existing State law the Mayor fully appoints the Board. His current term expires in May 2015 and no one really knows at this point if he will run again. So really this promise isn’t worth much.


  2. - wordslinger - Monday, Nov 26, 12 @ 2:34 pm:

    The 7-year-old compulsory school age is an anachronism, but I doubt that it’s a problem.

    Most parents want to get their kids into school as soon as possible.


  3. - circularfiringsquad - Monday, Nov 26, 12 @ 2:44 pm:

    Juan is a very funny guy…goes from being Blagoofian fundraiser to ethics czar overnight
    Gotta love it


  4. - OneMan - Monday, Nov 26, 12 @ 3:08 pm:

    word, I think the issue is you can’t go after a truant 6 year old, because they are I would suspect not technically truant.

    So if the 6 year old is missing a ton of school days there may not be much anyone can do.


  5. - DuPage Dave - Monday, Nov 26, 12 @ 4:15 pm:

    Like most people, I thought kids were required to go to school at 5, but a little research shows that Illinois is not completely out of whack on the minimum school age law:

    Minimum compulsory age and corresponding number of states:

    Age 5: 8 states and the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and Virgin Islands
    Age 6: 24 states and American Samoa
    Age 7: 16 states
    Age 8: 2 states

    Source: Education Commission of the States


  6. - Just to Clarify - Monday, Nov 26, 12 @ 4:23 pm:

    The real issue is… who will fund truancy? It’s nice to lower the age?? But there is no funding for it…


  7. - On the Real - Monday, Nov 26, 12 @ 5:25 pm:

    Cicero is a cesspool.


  8. - reformer - Monday, Nov 26, 12 @ 8:40 pm:

    Gambling expansion will surely be enacted, now that Madigan is engaged in it. Another factor, however, is that the IL GOP dropped its anti-gambling expansion plank from its 2012 platform.


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